Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
This Blog is published for information and educational purposes only. No warranty, expressed or implied, is furnished with respect to the material contained in this Blog. The reader is urged to consult with his/her physician or a duly licensed mental health professional with respect to the treatment of any medical or psychological condition.

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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Anniversaries, Nodal Events, and Social Systems

by Annette K. Schreiber, Ph.D.

A nodal event is an event in a person's, family's, community's or country's life that affects it profoundly. Some events are positive, like the election of a president or the birth of a Royal baby. Some events, however, are so negative, that they throw everything out of equilibrium. Hurricane Sandy was such an event.

The Jersey Coast and those of us who were personally affected by the storm know that things will forever be different. We, as individuals, families and communities, have been knocked off balance. Everything has changed, as we search for the "new normal."

When we approach anniversaries of negative nodal events, we may find that we don't feel "quite right." We may become symptomatic in many ways, physically, emotionally or behaviorally. One person may get a bad cold, or break out in a rash. Another may quietly get drunk, or not so quietly go speeding down the highway and get a bunch of tickets. And most people have emotional upsets. Feeling depressed, sad, irritable, anxious, or having panic attacks are ways that many people "mark" these anniversaries. Why? Do we decide this is how we are going to observe the anniversary of Sandy? No, it is not a conscious decision. Each individual is part of a system: a family, a community or a country. And if the system is out of equilibrium, there are shockwaves that reverberate throughout all parts of the system, bringing on symptoms.

After Sandy, many members of our communities remain in deep trouble. The disillusionment stage of recovery has set it. The insurance companies, FEMA, SBA, the local, state and federal governments aren't moving fast enough to get people back in their homes, or their businesses up and running. Many people remain displaced, and have lost everything they owned and are desperately trying to figure out how to move forward.

But, there are random acts of kindness, people volunteering and giving, and countless fundraisers. Groups of people gather in formal and informal support groups to help themselves and others make sense of it all, and to draw strength from each other.

So, if on a particular anniversary, you don't feel "quite right," realize that you are not alone in feeling this way, and that we have all been knocked for a loop.  But our people and our communities are strong --  so Keep Calm, and Carry On!




 





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